TogetherintheUK have been gathering migrants stories since 2015. We think that listening to stories is the best way to learn about and from each other, and express our shared humanity.
We wanted to explore this idea more and find out about reaching an audience, so we chatted with Yuyu Wang, founder of Cheeky Chin, a collective of East Asian Theatre makers.
Yuyu is a theatre maker and creative producer, who moved to London from Beijing to study Advanced Theatre Practice at Central School of Speech and Drama. We had an online cup of tea with Yuyu to discuss stories, marketing tips, and why diversity matters.
Yuyu, why do you make theatre?
Theatre is a fantastic way to get conversations started because it’s live and intimate. I want to amplify under-represented voices within the theatre sector; diversity is key to making great art and developing our audiences.
Obviously, at present, we can’t do anything live. I’m developing my practice to reflect this and researching interdisciplinary work, but I always place stories at the centre of my work.
Why do stories matter?
People are naturally drawn to stories. Remember bed time stories, and that amazing moment when you stepped into the world of the imagination; it’s part of what makes us human.
As a migrant I know that stories are the best way to understand people. When I meet someone new I love digging into their past – what was school like, how about your first kiss, what was your first job? By listening to other people’s stories we can encourage empathy, which is much needed in today’s society.
Stories also make big issues accessible. My first show was called ‘The Invisible’, which I wrote because I felt alone and unseen in this country. I didn’t know anyone when I moved here and people often don’t understand how difficult it can be. I found that presenting themes around immigration, such as the cost of medical care for a migrant and loneliness in a new country, could be smuggled into a story, and an audience will listen more attentively. Stories are key to getting people to understand difficult topics.
How do you make sure your stories reach an audience?
Knowing who your audience is is of vital importance. For me, my core audience is British East Asian people. I also target other ethnic diversities, members of the LGBTQ community and people who are interested in immigration but may not have any experience of it.
My marketing tips are:
- Know your audience. Where they go, what they read, what do they like doing? This will help you identify places to advertise.
- Social media is a great way to promote your work for free. I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Direct marketing. Send posters, flyers and emails to interest groups such as institutions or networks who have subscribers lists they can share information with on your behalf.
- Develop partnerships with other organisations with similar aims to you – how can you help each to share your audience base? See it as a problem solving exercise – how can you help each other?
Do you have any advice for migrants who have recently come to the UK?
Know what you want to get out of the experience. Do you want to develop your career, travel, soak up a new culture? It helps to have an aim. That aim could change, but it definitely helped me to build a life here in the first place.
Thank you for chatting with us Yuyu, good luck with all your future projects.
Do you have a story you want to share?
Here at TogetherintheUK, we are always on the lookout for migrants stories. If you are interested in sharing your story but don’t know where to start, we will be holding a free storytelling workshop with Martin Plaut, on Thursday 2 July, 6 – 6:45pm. Martin is an expert on the Horn of Africa and a former BBC journalist. He is currently Senior Research Fellow at the institute of Commonwealth studies. You can book here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcodu-trzMtHtfAWynBx5f0_5gqcP7EKSjr
You can find out about Cheeky Chin here: